February is Black History Month!

The month of February was chosen to mark the observance of Black History Month because of Abraham Lincoln (Feb 12) and Frederick Douglass’s (Feb 14) birthdays. Not just recognized in the United States, it is also celebrated in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1967, the holiday originated in 1925. Its creator, Carter G. Woodson was a public historian and professor of African-American History in addition to being the leader of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). Their aim was to increase public knowledge of historical figures of notable achievement. The holiday’s first iteration was as Negro History (and Literature) week, mostly observed in school settings

Black intellectual movements contributed significantly to its continued popularity and the expansion of the holiday to a month-long observance. In addition, as public schools desegregated, their history curriculums needed to be more multi-racial. The presence of Black students on college campuses gave rise to multi-cultural organizations, who marked the observance as well. In 1986, Public Law 99-244 was passed by Congress- officially giving Black History Month federal recognition.  

Looking for Digital Library Resources?


  • Pathfinders : The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls by Tonya Bolden
  • Black History: More Than Just a Month by Mike Henry
  • Long Road to Hard Truth : The 100 Year Mission to Create the National Museum of African American History and Culture by Robert Leon Wilkins


  • Essence
  • Diverse Issues in Higher Education
  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, GA)
  • School Library Journal
  • Booklist


  • Ethnic News Watch
  • Diversity Studies (Gale OneFile)
  • Civil Rights and Social Justice from HeinOnline
  • MAS Ultra – School Edition
  • Gale In Context: U.S. History


  • Watch the SNCC Legacy Video collection from Academic Video Online
  • Stream Judas and the Black Messiah on Swank
  • Download The Night Malcolm X Spoke at the Oxford Union: a transatlantic story of antiracial protest 

Tips for Browsing the Stacks

A seventh-grader walks by a Black History Month display at Sutton Middle School on her way to class. Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages

The structure for classifying resources related to African-Americans has undergone many changes recently to reflect appropriate terminology. Rather than searching for “African-Americans” or “Black people” as a primary term, using it as a secondary search term tied to another subject will usually yield better results. Under the Library of Congress System, call number range E184.5-185.98 specifies African-Americans. Race relations are included in HT1501-1595. If you’re doing research on African languages and literature, explore PL8000-8844. For Black literature specifically, look under PN841.

Selections from the Children’s Section

  • Hand in Hand : Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Davis Pinkney
  •  Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Discovering Black America: From The Age of Exploration to The Twenty-First Century by Linda Tarrant-Reid
  • We’ve Got A Job : The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson
  • The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

Selections from the Social Justice Collection

  • The Black American; A Documentary History by Leslie H. Fishel
  • The Music of Black Americans: A History by Eileen Southern
  • Four Hundred Souls : A Community History of African America, 1619-2019
  • Festivals of Freedom: Memory and Meaning in African American Emancipation Celebrations, 1808-1915 by Mitchell A. Kachun
  • Free Within Ourselves: The Development of African American Children’s Literature by Rudine Sims Bishop

In Need of Some Primary Sources?

Current Resources for Observing Black History Month

At Eastern

The Frank B. Mitchell, Jr. 41st Lectureship: “When Normal No Longer Exists: Constructing New Paradigms for Pulpit and Pew“.

Local organizations and events

On the Web

Categories: Uncategorized

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